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Title: A handmade future : the impact of design on the production and consumption of contemporary West African craft as a tool for sustainable development
Author: Ladd, Katherine
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2012
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This research presents a critique of a craft development project carried out over a period of four years, where the nature of designer interventions in African craft projects is analysed and questions are raised that challenge the desirability and efficacy of such projects. This study is developed from the perspective of a professional designer rather than that of a professional development worker. Following this particular project over a continuous time period offers a specific and unique context in which to examine key and central issues: the design of such products by western designers for global markets, the consumption of 'ethnic' products in global markets, (including historical perspectives,) issues of authenticity, post-colonialism, and euro- centric connoisseurship. The research looks at the relationships between traditional West African weavers in both rural and urban Burkina Faso and Western designers, in addition to the consumption of textile products from this region. SOS-Save Our Skills has been set up by Karin Phillips, the director of an organisation that channels UK government funding for designers to exhibit in international design fairs: the British European Design Group (BEDG). Her aim is to resuscitate artisanal skills in Africa, beginning with a pilot project in Burkina Faso. Phillips believes that the BEDG's expertise in design marketing and promotion will transform the way Burkina's textiles are consumed in the western world, by presenting them as a form of 'deeper luxury.' The research uses a material culture approach to assess local design, production and consumption of textiles and clothing, and cross-analyses the ethnography of weaving cultures in the region with an understanding of the processes whereby craft products reach various Euro-American markets. The research asks whether African craft is intrinsically associated with notions of dependency and aid, and whether western designers knowingly, or not, collude in these notions. The resulting creative practice reflects the theoretical framework.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available